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CMs to meet on pachyderm problem

mardi 21 février 2006

Kolhapur, February 7 : CONSIDERING the recent attacks by wild elephants in the Chandgad district of Kolhapur, the chief ministers and forest ministers of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka are scheduled to meet in Delhi on February 15. A committee under the chairmanship of State revenue minister Narayan Rane will also review crop damage compensation rates. At present, it is a paltry Rs 20 for crops on one guntha of land.

In response to public demands, the State is also ready to offer thrice the rate in Karnataka for sugarcane crop damages. While trenches and electrified fences are under consideration, sirens and well-equipped forest guard squads are also in the pipeline.

However, a visit to Chandgad village by State forest minister Babarao Pachpute saw him elaborate on family traditions and spirituality. Speaking to residents from half a dozen villages frequented by wild animals, Pachpute had little else to offer. There were no well-researched approaches, concrete plans or pragmatic solutions.

Instead, there were attempts at saving face and diverting attention. ‘‘We don’t have elephants in Maharashtra. They come from Karnataka because of the sugarcane. But there is no need to worry since we have invited opinions from experts and will soon tackle the problem. We can also think of growing sugarcane in Karnataka, so that the elephants don’t come to Maharashtra in search for it,’’ he added.

Later, Pachpute read out a list of do’s and dont’s regarding the pachyderm problem. ‘‘Do not store sugarcane, salt and liquor near homes. Do not wear shining, white clothes, beam torches or hurl stones at elephants or shout. Burn chilly powder, as its smoke drives away the animals. Tie ropes coated with chilly powder around the fields,’’ he said. After the spiritual treat, Pachpute and his convoy of more than 15 vehicles moved to the next village to repeat the performance.

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